People ask me all the time how long it takes to make one of my art quilts. Who can tell? Do I get to count dyeing and screen-printing the fabrics? How about cleaning up the studio and resorting those scraps? And what about the search in my favorite thrift stores to find the Mexican dresses and Guatemalan fabrics that I can't resist? Let's not even try.
here she is, about 8 hours in
the cutting and pasting and
staring into space stage:
Our Lady of San Pedro.
- Audition a bunch of fabric, by color. This includes commercial fabrics, ethnic textiles, scraps of new silk and a couple of my scarves that haven't sold (the green cross), vintage table cloth dyed, discharged and screenprinted for the orange background.
- Decide the size, in this case, as a companion piece I wanted her to be about the same size as Our Lady of Nopales.
- Start with the face, from a embroidered yoke of a dress made in the San Antonino village in the state of Oaxaca. I find them in thrift stores or the closets of friends. I first started making these angels and saints when I could not bear to keep my wedding dress (the marriage long over), but couldn't bear to throw it away either. And that Lady has given birth to a tribe of relatives.
- So next, find her shape.
- Add layers.
- Listen to what is going on and find the right ways to give her voice and presence.
- With this piece, I was still taken with the thermofax I had made by tracing an old lithograph image of a rooster, the crowing cock that is a symbol of St. Peter, so it seems she became his Lady, a kind of comforting presence to all of us who have ever betrayed ourselves, and the love of others.
- Fuse it all together with Wonderunder.
- Add a few hieroglyphic squiggles to tie the surface together and add energy.
- NOW, the sewing begins, the rather tedious part that I try to look upon as meditative. But it adds a delicious line that's almost a secret -- you have to look closely to see how it's a layer of drawing.